ALCC Tip of the Week: Make Your Lawn Lush for the Party Season


The outdoor entertainment season is just a few weeks away.  If you have a grad party, wedding or other outdoor event coming up in late May, don't wait until the party is 2 weeks out to get your lawn into shape--because it won't happen.


There are 4 things you can do now that will make your lawn lush in just a few weeks.  Plus, what you do now will pay off all season long.  Early spring maintenance means less work later on when the party's over and you're ready to relax.
#1 - Wake up your lawn with a soak--not a splash--of water.  Since the past winter has been very dry, we need to apply water like Mother Nature does during an ideal springtime.  Spring rains, that soak in and rain again in seven- to ten-day cycles, are great for the lawn.  Soak the lawn well and allow the top ½ inch of the soil to dry out.  Then soak it again. 
#2 - Aerate the lawn.  After an early soaking, aerate the turf with an aeration machine.  The moisture makes the ground soft for the aerator to pull out good-sized plugs from the turf and roots.  The holes left behind let water, air and nutrients into the root zone where they do the most good.  Water again soon after aerating as the holes will make the ground dry out faster than before.  Leave the plugs on top of the grass.  The lawnmower will have them all broken up before the party--and they'll add nutrients in the meantime as they dissolve.
#3 - Fertilize.  After aerating is the best time to fertilize because the aeration holes have made way for nutrients to head straight down to the roots. Spring is when grass builds the roots that will support the lawn all season long.  Think about those roots gobbling up fertilizer and know they're doing their job to get ready for the party.
What to look for when you select fertilizer:
Look for a slow-release formulation and a balanced label of nutrients.
The three numbers prominent on the bag correspond to nutrients:  N - nitrogen; P - Phosphorous; K - potassium.  Nitrogen is the key ingredient, but it works along with the other nutrients.  Garden center experts can help you sort out these elements. 
The fourth number on the label is Fe - iron.  Beware that if fertilizer with iron falls on your sidewalk and then gets wet, there will be permanent red rust stains on the concrete.  No, they won't wash away before the party.
Also look for the word "homogenous" on the label.  This means the particles of fertilizer are all about the same size.  When you apply the fertilizer, they will spread more evenly to make the lawn uniformly green.
#4 - Un-welcome the weeds.  Nothing detracts more from an otherwise beautiful lawn than yellow dandelion flowers or other weeds.  Get after these party-crashers early and you will have fewer weeds to deal with as the season goes on.  What you need to know:
Pre-emergent weed control must be applied before the end of April to be effective.  
When weeds appear in the lawn, applying regular spot sprays can keep them under control.  If you hand dig weeds, be sure to get out all the roots.  And may the good times roll on your lawn!
 (c) 2011 Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado.  All rights reserved

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